DCSIMG

Wales could challenge Scottish university fees

There are 4,800 students from the UK who pay tuition fees to study in Scotland. Picture: Neil Doig

There are 4,800 students from the UK who pay tuition fees to study in Scotland. Picture: Neil Doig

  • by ANDREW WHITAKER
 

Scottish independence: The Welsh education minister has warned he would be “duty-bound” to consider a legal challenge against an independent Scotland if the SNP pursued plans to charge fees to students from the remainder of the UK.

Huw Lewis, a Labour politician, said Wales may have to “join the queue” of groups hoping to challenge the SNP proposal, which would also see fees imposed on students from England and Northern Ireland, but not on other European Union (EU) citizens.

There are 4,800 students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who pay tuition fees to study at Scottish universities – legal under the current UK set-up – while undergraduates from EU countries are not charged.

However, the SNP’s proposal to keep this arrangement after independence may not be legal, No campaigners claim, as they say it breaks Article 18 of the EU Functions Treaty, which states discrimination on the grounds of nationality is illegal.

The Scottish Government last night said that “exceptional circumstances”, including Scotland’s shared border and common language with the remainder of the UK, would allow it to continue with the controversial policy under independence.

Mr Lewis, a graduate of Edinburgh University, said: “Either there is a level playing field or there’s not. My feeling is we’d have to join the queue.”

 

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